As a journalism professor, I instill in my young charges the importance of understanding and avoiding defamation. And the recent Fox News settlement drives that point home, serving as an example of how First Amendment protections often clash with libel and slander laws.
For about 24 hours in March, it looked as though the fierce, long-running debate over the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic might be close to resolution. First with the story was reporter Katherine J. Wu of The Atlantic, in a March 16 piece entitled “The Strongest Evidence Yet That An Animal Started the Pandemic.”
In addition to the important news itself, a good Sunday paper is a combination of the smart, the useful and the fun. We employed that same trio as our mantra in seeking out items for this year’s holiday gift guide for journalists.
A staple in broadcast media, Emmy-winning journalist Bill Whitaker has graced American televisions since 1979. Stints in San Francisco, Charlotte and Atlanta led to CBS News, where he served as correspondent in Tokyo and, later, Los Angeles, where he was frequently seen reporting for “CBS Evening News.”
CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward often cites her “peripatetic upbringing” as the spark for her wanderlust. Born in London, the only child of an American mother and British father, she moved to Manhattan, then back again to London, with a rotating cast of nannies (11 by the time she was 8) along the way.
For over five decades, ABC news veteran John Quiñones has shared stories of those who have experienced abuse, injustice or hardship at the hands of the powerful people or institutions whose actions disproportionately impact the lives of others. As a reporter for “World News Tonight” and “20/20,” anchor on “Primetime” and host of the wildly popular “What Would You Do?”
Note: The popularity of this story prompted us to treat it as a dynamic document, adding more reviews as appropriate movies are released or discovered. So what started as “110 Journalism Movies, Ranked” has morphed into “170 Journalism Movies Ranked.” And we have no intention of stopping.
The stunning recent murder of Las Vegas Review Journal investigative reporter Jeff German was as unexpected as it was frightening and is shining a renewed spotlight on the risks of reporting — even in the United States. German was well-known for reporting on government corruption, organized crime and wrongdoing for decades working first for the Las Vegas Sun and then the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
With the Society of Professional Journalists holding its annual convention in the nation’s capital in October, it’s a good time to take a look at what that town has to offer the working journalists. After all, news is the lifeblood of D.C.
Susan Glaser, travel editor for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com, still wistfully recalls her final pre-COVID trip before the world went into lockdown and tanked her livelihood. “I went to northern Kentucky to visit a bourbon trail right before everything shut down,” Glaser said.
The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, partnered with white supremacists to intimidate black voters in the 1890s yet remains a respected newspaper today, writer Alexandria Neason noted in a story last year. “Americans have short memories; we don’t like to be reminded of our many sins, so instead we prop up lofty narratives of progress and unity that obscure the violence enacted along the way,” Neason wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review.
June 23rd, 2022 • Featured, Quill Archives
Graphic depictions: Long-form comics as journalism
In December of 1991, the comics artist Art Spiegelman, author of the two-volume graphic novel “Maus,” wrote a letter to the editors of The New York Times. After thanking them for acknowledging the unexpected success of his book, which had recently made the Times’ bestseller list, he expressed a concern about “Maus” appearing on the fiction side of the list.
One of the most important jobs of any newsroom in any city is to tell the stories of the people who shape and construct the narratives of the community. But for many years, newsrooms, reporters and leaders did not reflect those communities as well as they should.
Steve Schulz’s social life often led him to downtown Minneapolis, where he’d attend ball games, go to the theater or just have drinks with friends. Since he was there so much, he decided to sell his house in the suburbs and get an apartment downtown, where he could walk to his favorite hangouts.
Every 10 years since 1982, researchers for “The American Journalist” survey a representative sample of journalists throughout the United States to understand who makes up the profession and their attitudes toward it. Leading the survey this year is Lars Willnat, the John Ben Snow Endowed Research Professor in the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.
A Washington Post graphic comparing Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s experience with that of current justices has been widely shared on social media, sometimes without the headline that provides important context. The chart ran online and in the newspaper with the headline, “How Ketanji Brown Jackson’s path to the Supreme Court differs from the current justices.”
Since becoming president of the Society of Professional Journalists, I’ve constantly talked about #SPJStrong. We are a strong organization in part because we have two communities that bring journalists together for a common cause. If you’re a freelancer looking to expand your network, find a job lead or join a supportive group, all you have to do is turn to the SPJ Freelance Community.
(image credit: www.epictop10.com) Many a great story has come out of Freedom of Information Act findings. At the same time, many a story doesn’t get written because the requested documents don’t arrive by deadline – if at all. And the two-year-old pandemic is worsening response times.
Racking your brain for the right word is particularly grueling on deadline. Are paramedics attempting to stanch the bleeding after a mass shooting? Or should that be staunch? And was the lawyer riffling through her notes, or rifling? Did the defense refute or rebut the arguments?
February 17th, 2022 • Featured, Quill Archives
Hicks: Palin case dismissal comes with a reminder of vulnerability
Both the jury and judge who considered Sarah Palin’s libel lawsuit against The New York Times concluded she did not prove her case. That means news shops will continue to enjoy the high legal standard that’s rarely met by plaintiffs attempting to prove libel.
Jeff Zucker’s departure from the network he led has been big news. But media executives and newsroom managers who strive to produce journalism with high ethical standards should take note of a passing detail in the events at CNN that preceded his leaving.
Violations of journalism ethics come in a variety of types, many of which were committed in 2021. Some happen because of bad judgment, some are committed by journalists who know they are wrong and some come from maintaining the status quo without question.
You may recognize Apoorva Mandavilli’s name due to the sheer number of COVID-19 stories bylined by The New York Times health and science reporter. Her background in both science and reporting on other infectious diseases truly prepared her for this moment.
February 4th, 2022 • Featured, Quill Archives
Accident brings attention to safety of lone journalists in the field
On the night of Jan. 19, Tori Yorgey was in the field doing a live report for the 11 p.m. news on NBC affiliate WSAZ in Huntington, West Virginia. Yorgey was covering the significant winter storm that hit the area, which resulted in a water main break in Dunbar, a town roughly 7 miles west of the state capital Charleston.
On May 13, 2021, the British Antarctic Survey observed a massive chunk of ice breaking off Antarctica. A generation ago, journalists would have had very little specific information to write about such an event. But in this case, we almost knew immediately that the iceberg A-76 measured around 4,320 square kilometers (about 1,668 square miles) in size, making it the largest berg in the world at that point.
To retweet or not retweet. This isn’t a complicated question for most tweets. But not all. Some retweets can be used as evidence in a defamation suit against a journalist. Think this is fiction? Think again. Recently, a federal appeals court said a journalist’s retweet of a potentially defamatory article via Twitter can be used as evidence of malice in a defamation suit.
January 7th, 2022 • Featured, Quill Archives
UN warns of ‘a significant number’ of risks toward journalists
The United Nations has warned that journalists still face a significant number of risks, even as newly released figures show the lowest death toll of journalists and media workers in over a decade. The Observatory of Killed Journalists at UNESCO, the UN’s educational, scientific and cultural agency, reported that 55 journalists and media workers lost their lives in the past year.
An Oklahoma City TV station reported in September that local emergency rooms were turning away gunshot victims because they were inundated by victims of ivermectin overdose. Great story — and one fitting into the media narrative debunking the myth that ivermectin, an anti-parasitic medicine used for livestock, can be used as a COVID-19 preventive.
SPJ professional and student chapters are the backbone of our organization. Often the “boots on the ground” for our local journalists, student journalists and journalism educators, they play a big part in the strength of SPJ. That’s why I’m devoting my Quill columns to our chapters, whether they are standing up for the rights of journalists, raising scholarship money or giving students a place to grow their network on campus.
I’ve been posting fact-checking tools to Journalist’s Toolbox for more than a quarter of a century. Verification is at the core of what we do as journalists, and having good resources at our fingertips. Here are a few of my “quick-and-dirty” tools I’ve been using to fact-check stories, photos and video: The Google Fact Check Explorer tracks if a story has been fact-checked by an independent source.
At first, we thought we’d go for practical this year. After all, journalism is serious business. Then we thought about what a tough year it’s been for many and thought “fun” would be a better road to go. Then again, what about stylish gifts?
November 23rd, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives
“The French Dispatch” and more added to SPJ’s journalism movie rankings
We started with 110 journalism films, in honor of SPJ’s 110th anniversary. But the list keeps growing, both with new flicks and discoveries from the past. Here are the latest additions, as reviewed by our project partners at Midwest Film Journal.